Praise as Recalling God's Presence
Dear Kaleid Women,
We crossed the Labor Day line this week. Which means that, even though it’s still crazy hot outside, there are hints of the coming invigoration of the Fall. Football games and sweaters on sale and a month of the year that is almost entirely made up of the (sometimes welcome) school routines mean that there’s a good chance we will be surprised and overjoyed to find ourselves breathing deeply on a beautiful 72 degree day sometime in the next few weeks.
Hold on, girls. It’s coming!
As we continue our series on the habits that shape our worship (because habits form the loves of our hearts), today we turn toward the consideration of praise. Praising God in the middle of the mundane or hard can seem like shopping for a cozy sweater on a humid summer afternoon - downright out of place and even stifling. But, when we praise, we place our faith in the presence of God as one who is with us now and as one who is making all things new. We are placing our bets on the side of the one who is renewing all things, clearing out what’s dead allowing it to yield to the bright hope of abundant life.
Praise is not denying what is hard; praise is acknowledging the gracious and powerful presence of God with us, even inside the hard. Praise makes space for faith to breathe and grow inside of our souls.
Marva Dawn gave a sermon about praise on Thanksgiving Day in 1997 at a church in Cupertino, California. She taught about a Jewish custom called “the 100 B’rakhot” in which people sought to say “Blessed are you” (Baruch atah) to God for various things throughout the day, 100 times. David blessed God. Daniel blessed God. Jesus blessed God. This practice is an ancient and current Jewish custom.
Dawn taught that this practice of praise reminds us of that “because God is, everything else falls into place.” Blessing God 100 times in a day reminds us of what God is like and of the abundance of our God so that our faith has more breathing room. Through praise, we become bolder askers and weaker worry-ers, because we are practicing the presence of God and remembering His character.*
One day this week, give the 100 B’rakhot a whirl. Let yourself sink into the presence of God and remind yourself of God’s good character, even in the mundane and even in the hot, humid grumpy places.
Journaling Questions for this week:
Reflect on your practice of praise. What does “praise” mean to you? When do you typically praise God and how do you do so?
How is praise connected to the realization of God’s presence? Take time to read a few Psalms and notice the connection between praise, God’s character, God’s presence, and hard life circumstances. Journal about how you see the interweaving of these things in your own life.
Practice praise. Choose a Psalm, perhaps Psalm 85. As you read it, after each verse, restate aloud the crux of that verse as a statement that begins with the Jewish blessing, “Blessed art Thou, Lord God Almighty, King of the universe that you…”
The Kaleid Team
* Sermon appears A Royal Waste of Time: The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World by Marva Dawn. (Quote taken from Chapter 18, page 218.)